EDMONTON - Today, Pierre Lueders flies to Moscow as the new head coach of the Russian bobsleigh and skeleton team.
The most decorated Olympic Winter Games athlete in Canadian history, the recently retired Edmonton bobsled pilot, after working as a coach for Bobsleigh Canada, has accepted the head job of preparing the host nation for the Sochi 2014 Olympics.
"After two years working in Canadian bobsled development, I'm taking over the Russian team two years out from their Olympics," said Lueders Monday evening.
"It's a combination of Bobsleigh Canada looking at changing my coaching role to more of a technical coaching assignment but not actually being an hands-on coach, which was not something I wanted, and this incredible opportunity presented to me by the Russian Federation," he said.
"It was like Tuffy (Tuffield) Latour told me when he took over coaching our team before the Salt Lake and Vancouver Olympics: it's a tremendous opportunity and when opportunities like this come along, you have to take them."
It's not like Randy Ferbey being approached to take over coaching the Russian curling team for the Olympics, he said.
"Russian bobsledding isn't down there somewhere where curling might be. I've looked at the the team and the potential of the team, with all the personnel and they have good drivers. Older ones. Younger ones. They have Alexsandr Zubkov, who has won Olympic silver and bronze, and a world championship.
"They have a great mix.
"They have great facilities.
"The have an icehouse to train indoors outside of Moscow that is better than the one Canada has in Calgary, and one of only four or five of them in the world.
"They've hired me to help lead them and provide them with my experience of having competed in five Olympics.
"I've been hired because they have a team which has been underperformaing."
"I think Lueders is the best candidate for the job," said Russian bobsleigh federation president Georgy Bedzhamov. "What sets him apart is his sense of discipline and his methods — two things sorely needed in our program."
Lueders, 41, retired from competition in 2010 after a great career highlighted by an Olympic gold in Nagano in 1998 and two world campiohsip titles in two man bobsleigh, in 2004 and 2005.
Lueders has racked up 85 World Cup medals, eight World Championship medals and two Olympic medals during his illustrious career. The 19-year veteran of the Canadian bobsleigh team also has six Overall World Cup titles in the two-man, one Overall World Cup title in the four-man, and four Combined Overall World Cup titles on his resume.
Another Canadian, Florian Linder, was hired as Lueders's assistant.
"It's not just about trying to tell them what to do, but what not to do," said Lueders.
"I've lost Olympics by 9/100ths (Torino) and 11/100th (Salt Lake). It's not just about winning. It's about all the scenarios.
"The Russians need to be a little more consistent and a little more competitive."
Lueders said he didn't take the job because of money.
"It's about the opportunity, the experience and the knowledge. Doing things for financial reasons, for me, has never been a major consideration. That's never been my motivation. It's not my motivation now.
"This is about challenges and goals I want to achieve. It's about winning. Championships. Gold medals.
"I want to advance my skill and knowledge."
Lueders doesn't speak a word of Russian.
There's a little English spoken within the team, but Lueders said it's up to him to become conversant in the language in terms of the sport.
"I'm not concerned about being able to order a sandwich in Russian. But I have to be able to explain to them how to take a corner.
"It's about fine tuning and details and 100ths of a second.
"My goal is to do something to help the sport as a while and make the entire sport stronger.
"It's a huge challenge."